Go Girls! Theater Project
This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Activating Empathy: Transforming Schools To Teach What Matters competition.
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Go Girls! Camp.
We teach social/emotional skills through theater and expressive arts. Girls make and perform plays about standing up for themselves and each other.
About Your Organization
Glitter & Razz Productions
United States, CA, Oakland
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, CA, San Francisco Bay Area
Is your organization a
Your role in Education
After-School Provider, Other.
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Established (past the previous stages and has demonstrated success)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Many of us believe that the "mean girl" phenomenon exists only in middle and high schools. However, the problem is bigger and more impactful than we think. American girls as young as kindergarten are experiencing a serious compassion deficit in their schools. This compassion deficit in elementary school-aged girls manifests in multiple behaviors: bullying and relational aggression among girls and between girls and boys; paralyzing perfectionism and a fear of making mistakes which erodes self-confidence and seriously impedes learning and academic success; a lack of understanding of how to make and keep good friendships; an intolerance of any type of difference; and an inability to label, manage and regulate feelings especially those feelings associated with challenge and conflict.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our bold and brave belief: Girls are the superheroes who will lead the world in a compassion revolution. Go Girls! was founded by me and my partner, Allison Kenny. The girls work together to create and perform original plays with pro-social themes that express their feelings, ideas, and experiences. The process gives the girls space to practice the social/emotional skills that will improve their lives, their relationships, and bring their collective vision for a more compassionate community to life. Rooted in best practice in youth development, arts education, and drama and expressive arts therapies, Go Girls! consists of summer camps, afterschool clubs, day-long retreats, and learning supports for parents and professionals. We are now expanding to include a series of books, journals, activity cards, and original music. These products will work hand-in-hand with our programming, putting the lessons of Go Girls! in the hands of elementary school-aged girls throughout the U.S.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
In their plays, girls decide their characters, the location, and brainstorm problems and solutions based on the theme of that session. The theme is a thread woven throughout the whole process through discussion, posters in the room, and performing and visual art activities. Our themes are directly related to the key challenges girls face such as “Confronting Bullying,” “Imperfectly Me,” and “The Brand New Play: Trying New Things.”
We bridge art with what science knows works to improve the social/emotional lives of girls. We use the Kidpower curriculum, among other influences, to integrate practical skills into the process and the script itself. For example, last year, Ava chose to be a teacher who led the “bravery class.” Ava was rather shy and we loved how she decided to challenge herself in this way. Her first line in the play was: “Okay Class. Before you prepare to graduate, it is important to learn how to speak up and advocate for yourself and others. But this takes a lot of bravery and it takes a lot of practice. So, let’s practice some things we can say to try to stop putdowns.”
A parent once shared: “After camp, we moved and the kids had to go to a new school. I was nervous about my daughter making new friends. But, when I asked her about it, she said, ‘I’m not scared, we practiced how to make friends in Go Girls!. I know what to do.’”
Now, our programs have inspired a series of chapter books that tell the story of a fictional group of girls, who, like real Go Girls! make and perform plays that they believe will change the world.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
As an arts program, we have more flexibility to reach families who might resist more traditional mental health interventions. However, although we have proof of impact, our success is vulnerable to clinical-based programs that are on an “approved list of evidence-based practice.”
Large companies focused on teaching life lessons, like American Girl, definitely pose a threat. However, at our smaller size, we are in a better position to make and measure the impact of our lessons. Girl Scouts and Girls Inc. are great examples of national brands making an impact at the local level. Since our niche is the arts, this may help us collaborate instead of compete with these groups. In fact, we are already talking with the Alameda chapter of Girls Inc. about this very possibility.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
We teach social/emotional skills through theater and expressive arts. Girls make plays about standing up for themselves and each other.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Science teaches us what girls need to become empathetic. Art gives girls space to practice and integrate these skills into their lives.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
We have reached over 300 girls in our camps and classes since 2008. A mother, who is about to move away, told me recently, with tears in her eyes, “We are really going to miss Go Girls!. This program has had a profound effect on my entire family.”
Go Girls! is also having a positive effect on the school climate of Glenview Elementary. Over 200 girls have taken on a Go Girl! identity. They are proud compassion leaders, saying they value “teaching other kids what we’ve learned.” Girls run up to us with stories of how they have integrated the skills into real-life situations. One parent told us, “Even though my daughter hasn’t participated in your programs, I can tell you are making a difference. She used to come home crying everyday last year because of friendship drama and, this year, she comes home happy.” Our room on campus has become so popular that the boys have made it clear that they want in. As a result of Go Girls!, programs for boys at Glenview have also started.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Our goal is to bring Go Girls! to scale through the creation of our book series. With the popularity of books such as Judy Moody and Ivy & Bean, there is a proven market of girl readers and we expect that, within 3 years, Go Girls! will be in the hands of thousands of girls in the U.S.
Through the related products – journals, activity cards, etc. – the lessons will jump from the pages of the books into the lives of the girls. This is where change happens. We will continue to make an impact at the local level modeled after our ongoing Glenview partnership. Through partnerships with arts education organizations throughout the U.S., teaching artists will lead Go Girls! programs and help schools measure the impact of these programs on increasing empathy and compassion in the community.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
In writing the books and creating the products, Allison and I will draw on our 20+ years of experience writing and directing original plays from the voices of young girls. However, since our expertise is in designing, leading, and marketing in-the-room experiences, our biggest challenge will be transferring our methodology into these new formats and making these products attractive to the marketplace. We are moving our business into new territory - publishing and music production – and we will have to educate ourselves in these new fields.
The key to overcoming this challenge is to surround ourselves with a strong team of passionate people who have experience in these new fields. Our financing strategies over the next 4-6 months will be focused on building this team.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
By October 2012, Glitter & Razz will have re-invented ourselves as a social venture committed to scaling Go Girls!
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Securing the financing and making the shift in business structure from partnership to corporation. (June 2012)
Hiring the strong team of professionals to get us to our 12-month milestone. (August 2012)
Re-building our website to engage, provide resources, and grow a buzz in anticipation of the book release. (September 2012)
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
By April 2013, Go Girls! books and products are in the hands of 5000 girls in the Bay Area and throughout the United States.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Build on the strength of current Go Girls! program participants and fans to generate pre-sales of 1000 books (by December 2012).
The first book of the series is released along with the journal, the activity cards, and the first CD. (January 2013)
Build partnerships with at least 3 local arts education organizations to implement programs in approx. 10 schools (April 2013).
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
Go Girls! began by accident in 2008. That summer, only girls signed up for our camp where we were already teaching social/emotional skills through theater. We knew that this play had to be special. It had to celebrate the magic and power of being a girl. At the end of the summer, when we asked girls if they would come back to a girls-only camp, they screamed a resounding “Yes!”
Since that first summer, the camp has grown from 17 girls to approximately 120 girls in 5 different camp sessions in three different locations. For years, we operated as an enrichment program for families who have the means to enroll their daughters in specialty camps and afterschool classes. However, we always had a vision of being able to serve girls from diverse communities.
Then, last spring, Natalie Walchuk, the principal of Glenview Elementary, identified Go Girls! as the program that was going to help increase compassion in their public school. That’s when we knew we were on to something.
Tell us about your partnerships
Our partnership with Glenview provides the best model of how to access the Go Girls! programs to make and measure change at a systems-level. Our partnership with Kidpower International, a non-profit leader in personal safety skills for kids, allows us to integrate research-based, practical skills into our process. We also partner with non-profits like the JCC of the East Bay (Berkeley) and the Children’s Creativity Museum (San Francisco) to offer our summer camps. We plan to offer more programs through these kinds of partnerships in the future.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
The strong staff that we will need to achieve our milestones will include a small team of teaching artists to assist Allison and me in creating the content for our books and products and supporting the related programs. In addition, we will need a web development team, a project manager/editor for the publication of the books and products, and a project manager/musician for the production of the CD. We will also need a skilled manager to build partnerships with arts education organizations and work with them and a grant writer to secure the funding for these programs at the school level.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
In terms of needs, we could primarily use assistance in the area of organizational development and legal counsel that will help our currently small team grow to a larger company that can grow our revenue while making change at a larger scale. In terms of offers, we would love to share our expertise with professionals in the use of art and play in building compassionate classrooms and communities.
|50 weeks ago Karilee said: These girls rock- thank goodness for strong women for my daughter's sake. about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|50 weeks ago Lynn Johnson said: Thanks Edwin! I look forward to the upcoming Arts & Empathy panel. about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|50 weeks ago Edwin Rutsch said: good luck Lynn, here is my interview with Lynn about empathy and her program. Lynn Johnson & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|60 weeks ago Lynn Johnson updated this Competition Entry.|
|60 weeks ago Lynn Johnson updated this Competition Entry.|
|61 weeks ago Lynn Johnson updated this Competition Entry.|
|62 weeks ago Lynn Johnson updated this Competition Entry.|
|67 weeks ago Lynn Johnson updated this Competition Entry.|
|67 weeks ago Lynn Johnson submitted this idea.|